United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
WANDA K. BRUNNER PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER.
B. Russell, Senior Judge.
her application for disability benefits was denied, Plaintiff
Wanda K. Brunner filed this action seeking judicial review.
Magistrate Judge Whalen issued a report and recommendation
which recommended that the findings of the Administrative Law
Judge be affirmed. [DN 25.] Brunner filed objections, [DN
26], to which the Commissioner responded, [DN 27]. Fully
briefed, this matter is ripe for adjudication. After a review
of the administrative record, the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation [DN 25], AFFIRMS the findings of
the ALJ, and OVERRULES Brunner's objections [DN 26].
Standard of Review
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), any individual may seek a review
of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security in
the federal district court for the judicial district in which
she resides. Section 405(g) provides that “[t]he
findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any
fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive.” Id. Stated otherwise, the
district court must affirm the conclusions of the
Commissioner unless the court determines that an incorrect
legal standard was applied or findings of fact are not
supported by substantial evidence in the record.
Id.; see also Jordan v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 548 F.3d 417, 422 (6th Cir. 2008). Substantial
evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Jordan, 548 F.3d at 422 (citing Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The district court
may not, however, “try the case de novo, resolve
conflicts in evidence, or decide questions of
credibility.” Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506,
509 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Garner v. Heckler, 745
F.3d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984)
determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act, an ALJ performs a five-step
(1) If the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity, she is not disabled.
(2) If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity, but her impairment is not “severe, ”
she is not disabled.
(3) If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity and is suffering from a “severe”
impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months, and her
impairment meets or equals a listed impairment, the claimant
is presumed disabled without further inquiry.
(4) Otherwise, if the claimant's impairment does not
prevent her from doing her past relevant work, she is not
(5) Even if the claimant's impairment does prevent her
from doing her past relevant work, if other work exists in
the national economy that accommodates her residual
functional capacity and vocational factors (age, education,
skills, etc.), she is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; see also Jordan, 548 F.3d
at 422. The claimant bears the burden of proof with respect
to the first four steps. Jordan, 548 F.3d at 422.
The burden shifts to the Social Security Administration to
prove that there are available jobs in the national economy
that the claimant is capable of performing. Id. at
423 (citing Her v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d
388, 391-92 (6th Cir. 1999)).
Facts and Procedural History
Brunner does not object to the Magistrate Judge's factual
findings, but only the legal conclusions drawn from those
findings, the following factual summary is taken from the
Magistrate Judge's opinion:
[Plaintiff Wanda] Brunner applied for DIB on October 16,
2012, alleging that she was disabled as of March 2, 2007, due
to degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar
spine, degenerative joint disease of the right knee, obesity
and depression. The Commissioner denied Brunner's claims
on initial consideration and on reconsideration. Brunner
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
ALJ William C. Zuber conducted a hearing in Louisville,
Kentucky, on June 12, 2014. Brunner attended with her
attorney, Christopher Harrell. Brunner and vocational expert
(VE) Sharon Lane testified at the hearing. Following the
conclusion of the hearing, ALJ Zuber entered a hearing
decision on September 3, 2014 that found Brunner is not
disabled for the purposes of the Social Security Act.
In his adverse decision, ALJ Zuber made the following
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act ...